Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Arizona Dithers While Dollars Are Doled Out By Mark R. Kerr

When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 into law on February 17, it marked the beginning of a 45-day window (deadline April 3) for each state to claim the funds allocated to it by the act.

In order to receive funds from the ARRA, governors have 45 days to certify that they will first of all "request and use" funds from the ARRA and second of all use them to create jobs and promote economic growth. If a governor does not accept funds allocated to his or her state before that window expires, the state's legislature then has the option of certifying those two conditions itself.

As of press time, according to the website, seventeen states, have had requests (certifications) filed, by their respective governors to receive stimulus funding.

A total of 28 states and the District of Columbia have set up web pages, called state recovery sites, as mandated by ARRA.

According to the site, 70,000 jobs will be created in Arizona alone thanks to the ARRA.

Arizona, ARRA states, could receive $100,561,948 for public transit projects, $521,958,401 for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure and $3,900,000 for community health centers, creating 90 jobs.

Under sections 1201 and 1511 of ARRA, state and local governments must complete several certifications before receiving funding. Twenty nine states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have filed their certifications, according to

Arizona hasn’t filed any initial certification under 1607 of ARRA, or any transportation certification under 1201 and 1511 of ARRA.

On Wednesday (March 4), Governor Brewer, the accidental Governor, blathered on while people protested the cuts in the state budget, presenting nothing more than a political outline that contained few details on how to revive our economy, defend education, and protect vital services while not mentioning when she will submit the certification so Arizona can begin receiving funds as other states who’ve filed, have, as of press time.

So with that, House Democrats are asking Gov. Jan Brewer to immediately request and use the funds available to the state. “Arizona is in a fiscal crisis and the dollars from the federal stimulus package will offset our deficit and significantly lessen the burden of this budget shortfall,” said Rep. David Lujan, House Democratic Leader. “The governor must act now.”

“We have the opportunity to minimize harm from deep budget cuts, create new jobs and protect education,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, House Assistant Democratic Leader.

“By simply requesting the funds, the governor can eliminate a large chunk of the budget deficit and move Arizona forward toward a brighter future,” said Rep. Chad Campbell, House Democratic Whip.

In order to qualify for some of the federal stimulus dollars, the state must make statutory changes to draw down Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funds, child care, unemployment insurance and Water Infrastructure and Finance Authority drinking water fund.

In other words, the Republican’s “Super Bowl” budget and its draconian cuts, are lowering the potential the state could receive under ARRA. But the accidental Governor is more concerned about potential “strings being attached” when it comes to the more than $100,000,000 being offered in extending unemployment benefits, saying she may take part but not all of the funds allocated under ARRA.

It didn’t work for the Republicans, Texas Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby “Preexisting Condition” Jindal, have started filing the paperwork despite their public protestations over unemployment benefits, and Mississippi’s Legislature told Republican Governor Haley Barbour, they will take all the money as well, so what is the holdup Jan Brewer?!

How can one have “freedom” without a job or funds for that matter? At this point, political viagra won’t help the state and it’s dithering, unless action is taken!

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